Collecting the diversity and vibrancy of Hawaiʻi's agroforestry systems

KUMUPAʻA | Foundation

Farming and forest systems that integrate trees and crops (or other harvested plants or animals), sometimes called mahi lāʻau or agroforestry, are traditional and customary practices of Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiians) and other indigenous and local communities. Today, these systems are being promoted as solutions for simultaneously achieving food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and biocultural restoration. Yet, ensuring that efforts to promote these systems translate to socially just landscape change requires a critical understanding of how these systems are already occurring Hawaiʻi. We are therefore working with mahiʻai (farmers) and harvesters to hōʻuluʻulu (collect or gather) an understanding of the existing range of forest-agriculture systems present in Hawaiʻi, why people tend these systems, and their challenges to starting and maintaining these systems. Results will be available to all participants and will inform the design of policy and programs that support socially just transitions to diverse farming and forestry systems.

Diversified farming and forest systems exist on a fluid continuum, ranging from a few trees in a field or pasture to multi-story forests tended for non-timber forest products. Through Hōʻuluʻulu, we are gathering an understanding of systems in the green square - sometimes collectively called agroforestry. Figure adapted from Hastings et al. (2020).

HUI | Team

We are a diverse hui of mahiʻai (farmers), land managers, and researchers. Hōʻuluʻulu grew out of our collaborative experience starting an agroforest with Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi in Heʻeia, Oʻahu. The alakaʻi (leaders) of this phase of our work are Zoe Hastings, Maile Wong, and Tressa Hoppe, all affiliated with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Hōʻuluʻulu is part of the Sea Grant project "Enhancing social-ecological resilience and ecosystem services through restoration of coastal agroforestry systems" led by PI Leah Bremer and Co-PI's Tamara Ticktin and Kawika Winter. Other team members include Natalie Kurashima, Gina McGuire, Matthew Kahoʻohanohano, and Jade Delevaux.

LOHE PONO | Listening carefully

The main hana (work) of Hōʻuluʻulu is to lohe pono to the manaʻo (thoughts, beliefs) and experiences of mahiʻai (farmers) and harvesters in Hawaiʻi. We acknowledge our kuleana (responsibility) as researchers to challenge unequal power dynamics, nurture reciprocal relationships with research participants, and share any benefits that come to us through this hana (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua 2015).


Contact us if you are a mahiʻai, farmer, or harvester and want to talk story.

HOPENA | Outcomes

We are striving to ensure that the resources invested in this research and the research itself catalyze positive social-ecological change. As we lohe pono (listen carefully), learn from mahiʻai (farmers), and noʻonoʻo (reflect) throughout the project, we will adapt our understanding of how to enact this vision. As a start, we are working with mahiʻai from across the pae ʻāina (islands) to create a series of short video and pdf features to elevate their stories and the systems they tend, in partnership with the USDA National Agroforestry Center. More information about this phase of the project is available here. Please contact us if you have ideas for how to ensure this hana (work) supports meaningful change.

Watch a presentation of the research results.

Read the full text journal article, available free here.

Videos featuring agroforestry practitioners coming soon!

MEA KĀKOʻO | Supporters

NĪNAU | Questions?

Zoe Hastings, Ph.D.University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoazchastin@hawaii.edu
Tamara Ticktin, Ph.D.Professor of BotanyUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoaticktin@hawaii.edu
You may also contact the UH Human Studies Program at (808) 956-5007 or uhirb@hawaii.edu to discuss problems, concerns, and questions; obtain information, or offer input with an informed individual who is unaffiliated with the specific research protocol. Please visit http://go.hawaii.edu/jRd for more information on your rights as a research participant.
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa IRB Approval Date 02-20-2020